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Ananta Ripa Ajmera

advisor of Ayurveda at THE WELL

Updated: 11/30/2022

Care for your body this winter with these satiating, nutrient-dense Ayurvedic recipes.

Wintertime is an excellent time to build up your strength for the year ahead — physically, mentally and spiritually. According to Ayurveda, the winter months are the healthiest time of the year, when your digestive capacity is naturally at its peak relative to other times of the year.

Ayurveda is ancient India’s science of natural health and healing — the so-called “sister science” of yoga. In Ayurvedic wisdom, digestion is poetically compared with a fire. The Sanskrit word for digestion is agni, which literally means an inner fire. There is an inverse relationship between your inner digestive fire and the outer fire of the sun. That's why your digestion tends to slow in the summer months and you likely feel less hungry. When the strength of the sun is high during the summer months, your inner digestive “sun” or fire is low so that you don’t overheat.

In the wintertime, when the weather gets colder and lunar energy becomes more powerful than solar energy, your inner digestive fire heats up, making you feel hungrier. (Read this for more on how to maximize winter, the Ayurvedic way.) This inverse relationship between the inner digestive fire and outer sun ensures that your body remains in a state of homeostasis.

Like squirrels gather nuts to fuel them for a long time to come, you are also encouraged to eat nourishing foods that will ensure your body, mind and soul have ample strength for the whole next year ahead.

Here are three of my favorite Ayurvedic recipes for winter that are easy to make — and sure to please.

Warm your heart with butternut squash.

Butternut squash’s Sanskrit name, kushmanda, is synonymous with health, wealth, abundance and heart, which nods to this vegetable’s heartwarming and nourishing qualities.

Ayurvedic recipes embrace the medicinal properties of healing spices, which can aid in healthy digestion. This recipe involves quite a few excellent Ayurvedic digestive spices.

Sautéed Butternut Squash

Serves 2


  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups butternut squash
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Himalayan rock salt
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)


  1. Heat 1 tsp ghee on a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp of each of these digestive seeds: cumin, fennel, ajwain and fenugreek. Swirl and cook till fragrant, usually 10-15 seconds.
  2. Add 8 to 10 curry leaves and 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated, and cook for 5 seconds.
  3. Add one onion, finely chopped, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add two cups peeled and diced butternut squash, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and Himalayan rock salt to taste. Cook, stirring every 3-4 minutes to prevent sticking, until the butternut squash is soft enough to cut with a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. You can optionally garnish with cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy this delicious recipe with tortillas or rice and lentils of your choice.

Make a mouthwatering masoor dal.

Masoor dal is a lentil with a unique hearty taste and texture (and goes particularly well with butternut squash and white basmati rice). Whole masoor dal is brown and is my preferred choice for this recipe, although you could also use the split red version — just reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes.

Masoor dal promotes easy digestion and is especially beneficial for any bleeding conditions or fever. This masoor dal recipe is considered sattvic, meaning it enhances your mental clarity and sense of independent contentment and inner peace.

Masoor Dal

Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup masoor dal
  • water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Himalayan rock salt
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a few sprigs of cilantro


1. Rinse 1/2 cup of whole masoor dal until the water is clear, then add to a small bowl. Add enough water to cover the dal by 1 inch and soak for at least 1 hour.

2. Place the dal and soaking water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and Himalayan rock salt to taste into a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the dal looks mushy, about 1 hour.

3. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, swirl and cook until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the cooked ghee to the cooked dal. Garnish with cilantro if you like.

Boost your strength with ashwagandha pancakes.

Ashwagandha is an amazing adaptogenic herb used in Ayurveda for overall health. It's also used to enhance shukra (your sexual tissue) and to enhance your spiritual consciousness. (For what it's worth, sexual tissue is important for everyone, not just those who are sexually active. In Ayurveda, your sexual energy is contained not only in your reproductive organs, but also in every cell of your physical body.)

Ashwagandha can enhance your immunity, libido and fertility, and can also support you in channeling your sexuality in a spiritual direction. Doing so also helps build your physical strength and power for the year ahead, making it a wonderful ingredient to use in winter.

This nourishing Ayurvedic recipe is made with urad dal, a heavy lentil known as “poor man’s meat” in India because it was more affordable there than meat. Urad dal serves as an excellent meat substitute if you are vegetarian.

Ashwagandha Pancakes


  • 2 tbsp ashwagandha powder
  • 4 tbsp sesame seed powder
  • 16 tbsp urad dal powder
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar or jaggery
  • Water
  • Ghee


1. Mix together 2 tbsp ashwagandha powder with 4 tbsp sesame seed powder and 16 tbsp urad dal powder with 4 tbsp coconut sugar or jaggery. This dry pancake batter can be saved for some time.

2. When you are ready to cook the pancake, slowly start to add a spoonful of water at a time and mix slowly until the batter is thin enough to make a thin pancake.

3. Put ghee on a hot pan and add batter to make a crepe/pancake. Make circles in the batter with the back of your spoon to help it thin out and cook through. Flip and let the other side brown and cook through. Enjoy while warm.

Read More

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All About Ayurveda

This ancient science helps you reclaim health through harmonizing the body, mind and spirit.

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7 Ayurvedic Secrets for Healthy Digestion

Soothe your stomach and improve digestion with these Ayurvedic diet tips.

THE WELL Q&A: Ananta Ripa Ajmera

Our Director of Ayurveda on living a healthy, balanced and spiritual life